Congressman Jimmy Panetta is dedicated to public service and proudly serves California’s 20th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. First elected to Congress in 2016, he was sworn in as member of the 115th Congress on January 3, 2017.
Congressman Panetta represents California’s Central Coast, a diverse and beautiful region covering all of Monterey and San Benito Counties and southern portions of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. He is a member of the House Agriculture and House Armed Services Committees.
Growing up in Monterey County, Congressman Panetta knows what makes the Central Coast a special place. The agriculture of this area is the economic engine of this congressional district. From artichokes to strawberries to lettuce to wine grapes, the Central Coast is the epicenter of specialty crop and organic agriculture producing over $5 billion annually. The community of farmers and farm workers that till this fertile area produce more than 100 different crops and help give the area its moniker of Salad Bowl of the World.
California’s 20th Congressional District is also home to more than a dozen military installations, including the Navy Postgraduate School, Army Defense Foreign Language Institute, Fort Hunter Liggett, Fleet Numerical Weather Station, and the Defense Personnel Data Center. From 2003 to 2011, Congressman Panetta served as an officer in the United States Navy, Reserve Component. Despite being employed full time as a prosecutor in Oakland, California, Lieutenant Panetta volunteered for active duty in 2007. He was quickly mobilized and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During that time, Congressman Panetta was assigned to a Special Operations Task Force as an Intelligence Officer responsible for finding high value enemy targets. Based on his work, Congressman Panetta was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service. Although Congressman Panetta stopped wearing the uniform in 2011, he continued to serve those who served our nation. As a board member with the Veterans Transition Center in Monterey County he worked to end veterans’ homelessness and fought to establish Monterey County’s first Veterans Treatment Court. Congressman Panetta also partnered with local leaders and community members to attain the political will and financial funding for the construction of the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery on the former Fort Ord. Due to his work with Veterans, Congressman Panetta was named a Monterey County Veteran of the Year in 2015.
Stretching along Congressman Panetta’s district lies the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the largest protected ocean area in the continental United States. Anchored around this unique ecosystem are more than 40 world-class universities and marine research institutions working to better understand climate change, ocean acidification, rising sea levels, and more. Congressman Panetta knows how valuable these institutions are and before attending law school, served aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel and more recently as an Advisory Council member for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Travelers from around the world visit Congressman Panetta’s district to explore Pinnacles National Park, Fort Ord National Monument, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Clear Creek Management Area, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Hollister, Gilroy, Santa Cruz and other attractions. The Central Coast boasts a flourishing travel and tourism industry based on a long tradition of providing exceptional hospitality services and unparalleled recreational, historical, scenic, and educational opportunities.
Most recently before his election to Congress, Congressman Panetta served his community as the deputy district attorney for Monterey County, which includes the city of Salinas. In this role, he prosecuted violent gang members to pursue justice for victims, protect families and make communities safer.
Congressman Panetta graduated from the University of California at Davis with an undergraduate degree in International Relations and received his law degree from Santa Clara University.
He is married to Carrie McIntyre Panetta, a Superior Court judge in Monterey County, and they have two daughters, Siri and Gia.